||United Kingdom – Engelbert Humperdinck – Love Will Set You Free (English)
Music/Lyrics: Martin Terefe, Sacha Skarbek/Martin Terefe, Sacha Skarbek
Famous and respected singer. Check. A decent song. Check. A bit of luck in the draw. Damn it! Engelbert’s fate was sealed as soon as the draw was made and he came out first. Good though his old-fashioned romantic ballad is, it needed to be nearer the end. Going on first, it was always going to be lost in the mixture that was to follow.
| Compact Disco
|Hungary - Compact Disco - Sound of Our Hearts (English)
Music/Lyrics: Behnam Lotfi, Gábor Pál, Attila Sándor, Csaba Walkó/Behnam Lotfi, Gábor Pál, Attila Sándor, Csaba Walkó
Not just the sound of our hearts, but the sound of the 1980’s, too. The lead singer looked nervous in the semi-final but, perhaps buoyed at being there, was a lot more assured in the final and he gave it everything.
| Rona Nishliu
|Albania - Rona Nishliu – Suus (Albanian)
Music/Lyrics: Florent Boshnjaku/Rona Nishliu
Rona gave us easily the classiest song of the entire contest, enhanced by the intense red background. There were reasons to doubt it would qualify for the final, never mind finish fifth overall. It’s great for the contest that a song like this can prove so popular.
| Donny Montell
||Lithuania - Donny Montell – Love Is Blind (English)
Music/Lyrics: Brandon Stone/Brandon Stone, Jodie Rose
How this came third in its semi-final is a mystery! The sparkly blindfold (this is Eurovision, it couldn’t possibly be a plain blindfold) gimmick looked ridiculous, his dancing was worse than a drunk uncle at a wedding and the song, which starts promisingly, descends into a disorganised mess!
| Maya Sar
||Bosnia and Herzegovina - Maya Sar - Korake Ti Znam (Bosnian)
Music/Lyrics: Maja Sarihodžić/Maja Sarihodžić
Jolly or straight-laced is what we usually get from Bosnia. Korake Ti Znam falls firmly into the latter category. Maya starts her soft and gentle song at the piano before, somewhat predictably, she walks away from it towards the end for the big finale.
| Buranovskiye Babushki
|Russia - Buranovskiye Babushki - Party for Everybody (Udmurt/English)
Music/Lyrics: Viktor Drobysh, Timofei Leontiev/Olga Tuktareva, Marry S. Applegate
Just when Engelbert Humperdinck thought he had the title of ’Oldest Singer to Perform in the Contest’ in the bag, the Russians chose a group from the local OAP home. Simple sing-along is the order of the day. Had it won, the reputation of the contest would have taken one of its biggest knocks together with a huge dent in its credibility.
| Greta and Jonsi
|Iceland - Greta Salóme & Jónsi – Never Forget (English)
Music/Lyrics: Gréta Salóme/Gréta Salóme
Iceland continued its run of strong entries with Greta and Jónsi’s highly likeable ballad. Greta’s violin playing evoked memories of Alexander Rybak three years earlier, but nothing should be stopped just because it may have been done before. It would have been a shock of historical proportions had this not made the final.
| Ivi Adamou
|Cyprus - Ivi Adamou – La La Love (English)
Music/Lyrics: Alex Papaconstantinou, Bjorn Djupström, Alexandra Zakka, Viktor Svensson/Alex Papaconstantinou, Bjorn Djupström, Alexandra Zakka, Viktor Svensson
Cypriot broadcaster, CyBC, chose Ivi to sing all three songs up for selection as the island’s entry. The song was chosen by national juries and the presence of a lot of fans on those juries was evident when the most stereotypical song of the three won.
||France – Anggun - Echo (You and I) (French/English)
Music/Lyrics: Jean Pierre Pilot, William Rousseau/William Rousseau, Anggun
The use of gymnasts instead of dancers was an interesting choice. It’s on the border of working and looking a bit daft but she probably got away with it…just.
| Nina Zilli
||Italy – Nina Zilli - L'Amore È Femmina (Out Of Love) (Italian/English)
Music/Lyrics: Christian Rabb, Kristoffer Sjökvist, Frida Molander, Charlie Mason/Nina Zilli, Christian Rabb, Kristoffer Sjökvist, Frida Molander & Charlie Mason
Nina had been compared by some to Amy Winehouse because of her appearance. Perhaps keen to capitalise on this, her hair had been styled in the Amy way. She was chosen by a special panel at the Sanremo song festival and initially, the plan was to sing her Sanremo song, Per Sempre in Baku. However, it was changed to the title track of her album. Officially because she wanted to give a different view of her style to the world, but quite possibly because it proved too difficult to reduce Per Sempre to the required three minutes. Handily, L’Amore È Femmina was already three minutes long.
| Ott Lepland
||Estonia - Ott Lepland – Kuula (Estonian)
Music/Lyrics: Ott Lepland/Aapo Ilves
An example of how to nearly turn virtually guaranteed success into disaster! Pre contest, Kuula was a beautiful, heartfelt ballad that went big at exactly the right moments. Whether pre-planned or not improvised, Ott used a different vocal arrangement in the semi-final whose only effect was to lose the neatness of the song. Anyway, it worked so the same vocal arrangement was used in the final as well.
||Norway – Tooji – Stay (English)
Music/Lyrics: Tooji, Figge Boström, Peter Boström/Tooji, Figge Boström, Peter Boström
Many were sure that Tooji’s pop/dance track would qualify but no-one foresaw how narrowly it would do so – only beating Bulgaria on the count back system after a tie. It’s therefore not surprising that he propped up the scoreboard in the final.
| Sabina Babayeva
||Azerbaijan - Sabina Babayeva - When The Music Dies (English)
Music/Lyrics: Anders Bagge, Johan Kronlund, Sandra Bjurman, Stefan Örn/Anders Bagge, Sandra Bjurman, Stefan Örn, Johan Kronlund
Written by the team which included writers involved in the successful Azeri entry in 2011 plus the lift that comes from being the host country, the omens were good. Much was made of her dress in the build-up, but the stage lighting can take most credit if there is any being handed out. Sabina went through a lengthy selection process to represent her country and the powerful, moody ballad chosen for her was always going to finish high up the scoreboard.
||Romania – Mandinga – Zaleilah (Spanish/English)
Music/Lyrics: Costi Ionita/Elena Ionescu, Dihigo Omar Secada, Costi Ionita
The Romanians added some colour and jollity to the evening with their ethnically flavoured, up-tempo ditty. The instruments looked like toys from some angles!
| Soluna Samay
||Denmark - Soluna Samay - Should've Known Better (English)
Music/Lyrics: Chief 1, Remee/Chief 1, Remee, Isam B
The Danes seem to specialise in bland, AOR songs which do better than they deserve. It’s melodic enough but never quite moves off the starting blocks. It did finish low down in the final, but being in the final at all was over-achieving!
| Eleftheria Eleftheriou
||Greece - Eleftheria Eleftheriou – Aphrodisiac (English)
Music/Lyrics: Dimitri Stassos, Mikaela Stenström, Dajana Lööf/Dimitri Stassos, Mikaela Stenström, Dajana Lööf
In what must have been a first, the Greek final was held in a shopping centre. Aphrodisiac is typical of recent Greek entries; catchy, high energy pop performed by a good-looking singer.
||Sweden – Loreen – Euphoria (English)
Music/Lyrics: Thomas G:son, Peter Boström/Thomas G:son, Peter Boström
Euphoria indeed as Loreen not only won, but came close to scoring the highest number of points in contest history. Her freestyle dancing led to comparisons with Kate Bush. Her song, which is perhaps unworthy of such a victory, will be a club anthem in Scandinavia for years to come. She also achieved chart success in many other European countries, making Euphoria the most commercially successful Eurovision song for many years.
| Can Bonomo
||Turkey - Can Bonomo – Love Me Back (English)
Music/Lyrics: Can Bonomo/Can Bonomo
Can didn’t receive the warmest of receptions when he was announced as the Turkish choice. Turkey missed out on the final last year and can consider themselves lucky to be back on stage in the Saturday extravaganza this time. Cheap gimmick alert! Can’s backing dancers form the shape of a boat from the cloths they had previously been waving around while accompanying Can’s ethnic Turkish song, which also has hints of Greek music – controversial!
| Pastora Soler
||Spain – Pastora Soler - Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me) (Spanish)
Music/Lyrics: Antonio Sánchez, Thomas G:son & Erik Bernholm/Antonio Sánchez
This is what the Spanish are very good at but have avoided entering for many years. A big voice with the task of selling an epic, passionate ballad. They chose the right lady as Pastora absolutely nailed it!
| Roman Lob
||Germany – Roman Lob – Standing Still (English)
Music/Lyrics: Wayne Hector, Jamie Cullum, Steve Robson/Wayne Hector, Jamie Cullum, Steve Robson
Germany’s entry has good pedigree as it was co-written by Jazz star, Jamie Callum. His fingerprints are all over it and the end result is a song which could possibly have given Germany a second win in three years. Standing Still would sound great on a small stage in a jazz club but also sounded more than good on the biggest stage in music.
| Kurt Calleja
||Malta - Kurt Calleja – This Is the Night (English)
Music/Lyrics: Johan Jämtberg, Mikael Gunnerås, Kurt Calleja/Johan Jämtberg, Mikael Gunnerås, Kurt Calleja
Are you ready for more dodgy choreography? Then we’ll begin the Maltese song. Many were surprised when Malta were announced as one of the qualifiers on Thursday night – or very early Friday morning for those in the host country! Kurt’s pop song was spoiled by the playground style dancing which featured at the end of the chorus. This included his two guitarists, possibly making this the most amusing choreography since Liliane St Pierre in 1987.
||Macedonia – Kaliopi - Crno I Belo (Macedonian)
Music/Lyrics: Romeo Grill/Kaliolpi
The song starts quietly enough but develops into a quality piece of Balkan rock. Kaliopi was always likely to put everything into her performance. In the event, she tried a bit too hard.
||Ireland – Jedward – Waterline (English)
Music/Lyrics: Nick Jarl, Sharon Vaughn/Nick Jarl, Sharon Vaughn
Just when you thought it was safe to watch the contest again, Jedward were back, this time with a water feature! As happened a year earlier, their backing singers worked non-stop. Even when Jedward put down their mics for a quick shower, there was no noticeable change to the vocals.
| Željko Joksimović
||Serbia - Željko Joksimović - Nije Ljubav Stvar (Serbian)
Music/Lyrics: Željko Joksimović/Marina Tucaković, Miloš Roganović
Željko is a Eurovision veteran! This is the second song he has performed, the fourth he has written and he hosted the contest in 2008. He took no chances when accepting the approach from Serbian broadcaster, RTS, to represent his country. He gave everyone what they expected, an ethnic ballad oozing beauty with an effective string arrangement.
||Ukraine – Gaitana _ Be My Guest (English)
Music/Lyrics: Gaitana, KIWI Project/Gaitana
Oh dear! This is a song better heard on disc than watched live. In her excitement, Gaitana shouted rather than sung the words and the garland on her head looked awful and out of place.
| Pasha Parfeny
||Moldova - Pasha Parfeny – Lăutar (English)
Music/Lyrics: Pasha Parfeny, Alex Brashovean/Pasha Parfeny
Pasha’s song and performance may have been positive, but his chances weren’t, or at least, didn’t seem to be! However, a couple of favourable draws and a memorable presentation gave Pasha a much better showing than was merited.